Bad Romance: What You Should Know If You’re Married to an Addict

married to an addict

The most recent data from 2017 shows that substance abuse and suicides accounted for over 150,000 deaths in America. Addiction is a downward spiral that comes in many forms, not just drug abuse, though. It is psychologically draining to the point where one may contemplate suicide.

You may not even notice this when you’re married to an addict. If you don’t recognize the early signs, you could find out after financial ruin. You may discover the stash of drugs or alcohol, but by then the addiction has taken over. Addiction in marriage can threaten everything you’ve worked for.

You need to know how to approach your spouse and get them the help they need. This guide will cover how to handle addiction and what steps they need to take to get better. It will require trust, hard work, and honesty from everyone, but you can save your marriage and the person you love.

Are You Married to an Addict?

Usually, an addict’s behavior is easy to spot by professionals. For those closest to them, their vision is clouded by their love. Your brain will automatically start making up excuses for addict behavior.

One of the best examples is when they drink too much, but only at parties. To some, this qualifies as a “social drinker” not an alcoholic. It also gets downplayed when they’re happy-drunk, not angry or abusive.

Addictions that steal away quality time with your spouse are often overlooked, too. Social media, video games, gambling, porn, and binge-eating are some of the most common addictions outside of drugs. Consumption of these vices in large quantities contributes to mood swings and emotional distance.

Your Role in the Addiction

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but sometimes spousal addictions are a result of the marriage dynamics. Appeasing someone with an addiction is only going to enable their behavior further. Even if you combine it with criticism or conditions on your support.

Bailing them out of a bad financial situation due to their addiction is necessary when you’re in a marriage. Doing it repeatedly reinforces this bad behavior. Their addiction will only get worse and push the boundaries of your financial and emotional well-being.

Addiction effects how much time you spend on yourself and your family. The person with an addiction problem will always feel like they don’t have enough time for you or others. Like stress, addiction is a disease that occupies so much of their time and their thoughts.

It’s important to try and maintain a normal and routine life for the sake of you and your partner’s sanity. Go to church, attend school meetings, sports events, have dinner together, and go to sleep at a good time. If your spouse is missing out on these gatherings, it should raise a red flag that they need to change.

While it isn’t advisable to ignore or feel indifferent about someone’s addiction, you can’t put your life on hold. If you have children together, it’s important to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Arm Yourself with Knowledge

Addiction is often more complicated than forcing someone to quit. The addiction is always a result of some deficiency in their life. People don’t use drugs because they want to seem cool or appease others.

Substance abuse is about filling in some void, drowning out problems, or coping with trauma. It’s not your responsibility to become a therapist and diagnose your loved one. The best you can do is educate yourself about addiction.

Learn about your family history, see if there is an underlying propensity for addiction. If mental illness runs in your family, try to look for patterns in behavior. Ask a medical professional about signs of addiction and how it relates to your family history.

Understanding Treatment Options

Before you attempt to address these problems head-on, you should research ways addiction is treated. Those AA meetings drug detox programs are certainly the most common, and they exist for all types of addictions. You want to line-up a program before you suggest to your partner about going.

It demonstrates you’re serious about helping them and you took the time to make sure they get the best care. Do your homework on these facilities by looking at what they specialize in. For example, do they only deal with drug detoxes or do they also provide mental help?

Can they treat people with multiple addictions? Is the facility segregated by gender? Will they accept all major insurance providers? Get these answers over the phone and in-person, in writing, preferably.

If everything checks out and they are ready whenever your spouse is, it’s time to move on to confronting the problem head-on.

Staging an Intervention

Timing is everything when it comes to getting your spouse to agree to an intervention. Actually, the best time to do it is when they least expect it. If you announce to them that you want to sit down and talk to them, it may go over poorly.

The surprise intervention needs to happen when they won’t be busy, have excuses, or skip out. You have to plan is to get them to agree, willingly, to start the treatment plan that you’ve picked out. You won’t get there if they’re already sussing out your plans or have control over attending the intervention.

What Should Happen

Start by contacting any friends or family members who either know how to keep a secret or don’t talk to your partner frequently. You want to gather as many people that they respect as possible and keep things in confidence. The shorter the time between gathering and staging the intervention, the better.

Before the gathering happens, you should all meet to go over how the intervention will go down. It’s okay to rehearse things, you want everyone to avoid being reactive and to maintain their composure.

The gathering should occur when the individual feels the calmest, not when they are stressed or descending from a high. Individuals called to the mediation group will compose letters to read aloud. These letters should concentrate on the addiction and how it has influenced them. Explicit occurrences are most helpful, for example, times when they’ve missed important events or responsibilities.

Everything should speak with tactfulness (not forceful), confidence, and objective in nature. The mediation group ought to likewise give their ultimatums in the event that they won’t go into treatment after everyone has said their piece. In this case, make promises, not threats.

Tell your spouse that their addiction affects the marriage and it cannot continue if they don’t seek help. They can no longer come and go in their children’s lives. They will not receive financial assistance to support their addiction.

Spouses and other relatives should investigate treatment choices before the mediation and spread them out as decisions amid the gathering. In a perfect world, these impassioned pleas will make them see the only path is to a treatment program. Normally, you’ll find a lot of resistance during an intervention.

Planning for the Intervention

You could do the entire intervention alone with them, but it helps to have experienced professionals. An expert interventionist can offer help, consolation, instruction, and direction, and taking over arranging and organizing of the mediation. Prepare if your partner is inclined to lose their temper, become hostile, and take this meeting the wrong way.

If they are medication or drugs, the last thing you want is for them to feel cornered. Medications can make an individual insecure, flighty, and even hazardous to themselves and others. This why hiring an interventionist can protect everybody by keeping things calm and controlled.

This expert can make a general arrangement, pick the mediation group, keep the conversation on track and positive. It also helps decision-making when they have someone waiting to provide them transportation right there.

Call your insurance agency, and talk about what’s covered and how to help pay for treatment. Professional interventionists can help families to find options to help pay for treatment. Most services offer installment plan alternatives to provide more coverage.

Investing in Their Recovery

Once they’ve taken that big step into a recovery management program, your job isn’t done. Professionals will take care of the logistics, but you and everyone in that intervention need to support them. Being separated from the life they grew accustomed to is tough.

Take away any doubts in their mind that you can’t handle the family while they’re away. Visit them with updates on what is happening in the outside world. Avoid any family rumors or gossip by disallowing others who may divulge.

You don’t want to lie to them while they’re in there, but at the same time, you want to prioritize positive news. The treatment team will likely have group therapy sessions to help with communication. Fighting addiction when you’re married to an addict requires long-term changes in marriage dynamics.

They don’t want to be treated like a special case, so it is imperative to restore some normalcy in your own life.

What Happens After Rehab?

The rehabilitation period never ends for someone suffering from addiction. It is a process of prevention and lifestyle changes. As the spouse, you have to protect yourself, too.

As they get ready to return to their life, you should use the time to yourself to rebuild. Rebuild your emotional and financial security, your sense of self-worth, and your perspective on life. You need to invest in yourself before you reinvest in the trust that you have in your partner.

Having this foundation is important because you will need to be aware of any potential for relapse. Your partner is ultimately the one who is in control here, but you are their helpful reminder of how far they’ve come.

Post-Acute Withdrawal

Post-acute withdrawal (PAW) is a constellation of often brutally uncomfortable symptoms that persist even after all physical traces of alcohol and other drugs have left the body and brain.

PAW differs in strength and frequency, more often than not in relation to the volume and length of one’s substance use. It usually comes in waves, affecting all facets of life, including focus, stamina, appetite, memory, sleep, and stress. It is important to recognize these symptoms to keep your partner from falling down another rabbit hole.

As trying as it may be, PAW is a fundamental procedure that everybody throughout rehab must experience. The mind and body start to mend and reprogram themselves without the utilization of liquor or different medications. It can take a month to as long as a half year for the mind to normally make enough endorphins and dopamine to recharge its stock of these essential mood regulators.

Take the First Step

Now that you understand what you need to do to save your partner, it’s time to act. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married to an addict. The second-chances are over, it’s time for an intervention and treatment.

This will test your love and probably cause a lot of pain before healing begins. If it means restoring the trust and freedom that you had with each other when you first met, it’s worth it. Remember, you’re not doing this alone, get as much help as you can.

It all starts with a phone call. At Costal Detox, we offer a state-licensed, state-of-the-art facility with teams of doctors, nurses, and therapists experienced in many fields of medicine. We believe in healing the mind and body through positive environments, not medicating and punishing patients.

Take a look at the amenities we offer and the comfortable living spaces. This is a safe space for all patients struggling with addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our detox programs and how we can help heal your spouse and family.

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Article Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.